20 Jan Author known for ‘giving back’
Jim Davidson — author of “Learning, Earning & Giving Back” — has certainly done all three, but it is the “giving back” by helping others succeed that is his proudest accomplishment.
Now in his 80s, Davidson is a nationally recognized radio commentator, motivational speaker and syndicated newspaper columnist. His column ran in more than 375 newspapers in 35 states, totaling well over a million readers. He often wrote of issues facing parents and students in today’s society.
While doing research for his column, Jim realized that many of society’s problems were directly linked to illiteracy. He also observed what researchers know about learning to read. For example:
The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.
The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home.
The best way to develop readers is for parents and adults to read to and with their young children, yet 61 percent of low-income families have no books in the home.
Eighty-five percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
It was Carolyn Wilson, executive director of the Mississippi Press Association, who knew of Jim’s interest in solving this problem and suggested that he compile his best columns into a book and use the profits for a literacy project.
Jim compiled the best of his essays into the book “Learning, Earning & Giving Back,” which he published in 2005. Profits from the book were used to fund “A Bookcase for Every Child” project.
“A Bookcase for Every Child” tackles the problem of illiteracy by using local volunteer talent in an innovative way, using no government or tax dollars. Fifty preschool children enrolled in Head Start are given a starter set of books along with an oak bookshelf personalized with their name. For some children, it’s the first item they can truly call their own.
These “personal” libraries provide a ready-made reading nook, a place to easily store and browse through treasures that open new worlds to them.
The project has now spread to six states with the farthest being Fairbanks, Alaska. Since its inception, more than 2,000 volunteer-made bookcases have been presented. Jim hopes to turn the reigns of the project over to a national service club that has potential to expand the project nationally.
“The Best of Jim Davidson” is his most recent publication. It includes 60 of his most requested selections from his nationally syndicated radio series. It is a book of “hope, encouragement and inspiration.” Again, Jim’s motivation in publishing the book is to “give back” by assisting others to achieve personal success. Jim thinks it has a chance to become a New York Times Best Seller.
Jim and his wife, Janis, live in Conway near Pickles Gap Village, which Janis owns. They were both widowed when they met about five years ago at a Gospel singing event. She explained that early in her career as a real estate agent, she would purchase Jim’s self-help books and often give them as presents. Now, Jim’s latest is dedicated to her.
His other publications include: “How to Plan Your Life” (1986); “My Heartfelt Passion: Saving Our Nation One Child at a Time” (2017); and a new, revised edition of “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”
HIs books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from the publisher (SBPRA.com/JimDavidson).
Jim’s “giving back” gift seems to be providing blueprints — whether it’s for building a bookcase, starting a community project, succeeding in one’s vocation, leading others or charting an entire life course.